I previously mentioned that one odd quirk of mine is that I am a vegetarian during Chinese New Year Day, and because of the friendly hosts at Shiosai-no-yado Seikai (潮騒の宿 晴海), they were able to plan both a vegetarian breakfast and also dinner for me during my stay there. I spoke about the Vegetarian breakfast at Gen, and after a very long day of driving and walking around the Kitsuki – Samurai Town, I was craving for some great food. Sekai booked us into their more “innovative” restaurant Ban-Ya for our 2nd night’s dinner.
When it comes to thoughtfulness, Japanese hospitality is hard to beat, and because Ms Buddha was eating meat as per normal, it meant that we had separate menus organised by the time we arrived.
I was craving for a bit of whisky to start off with (and it’s vegetarian!) and Ms Buddha went for a cider (which is one of her favourite drinks).
The appetizer for Ms Buddha was a set composed of both lighter items like tomato and creamcheese to something a little heavier like the roast beef. Judging by her expression, I was convinced that she was more impressed by Ban-Ya compared to Gen the previous night.
My appetizer was a plate of salad leaves with fried potato – although the sound of the dish may not be very enticing, I was impressed by the freshness of the salad and also the fried potatoes were done very well!
The next dish was a mixed sashimi for Ms Buddha, which looked incredibly fresh, and I think the expression on Ms Buddha’s face showed that they were indeed.
I was equally impressed by the vegetarian version of the “sashimi”, such that when I was having it, I said that if all greens and vegetables tasted this good and fresh, I’d have it more often! The surprise was that raw vegetables actually taste fantastic with wasabi and soy sauce.
Next was the steam egg for Ms Buddha, which is also oddly something that she loves, I never really “got” what there is to like about steamed eggs, but it sat well with Ms Buddha as she polished the bowl quicker than I could finish mine!
For my dish, it was the grilled vegetables, which once again was great although slightly salty for my taste buds. Something important about my preference for vegetables is that I don’t like it when they get so cooked that they lose all solidity, these were grilled to perfection without being too dry.
Given that we walked so much that morning, I was looking forward to some carbs, so the next dish was a pasta dish that was similar for the both of us except Ms Buddha’s one had shrimps in it.
The pasta was cooked the way I like them in that they still held their firm texture, although the sauce itself could’ve had a bit more punch to it.
After the pasta was a very nice “seasonal frozen” which was pretty much the palette cleanser.
After the cleanser, came the main dish, which was the bungo beef for Ms Buddha, who tends to be a big fan of Beef in Japan. She’s never not smiled after eating Japanese beef, although she did mention that she liked the one from Gen the night before just slightly more.
Mine was a tempura, and to be honest, a lot of people from Hong Kong like tempura prawns and tempura seafood, but from my perspective, whether a chef knows how to fry something can be better understood from how he/she does vegetables, as you never want to ingredients to absorb too much oil or lose too much moisture during the process. Happy to say in Ban-Ya’s case that all the items were done excellent with the ingredient’s individual flavours still retained. (Favourite was the mushroom!)
The final dish before the dessert was normally a staple dish, and Ms Buddha got a set of sushi whilst I got a set of tomato soup with rice. Both were delicious, although I wasn’t a big fan of the tomato due to personal preference.
To top of the evening, Ms Buddha’s dessert was a Sweet bean soup with rice cakes – while I got a very nice fruit plate – I suspect they didn’t give me the sweat bean soup just in case something used was not fully vegetarian, which is a consideration I appreciate a lot!
All in all, the dinner was fantastic, and honestly, in our opinion, takes a slight lead over Gen Restaurant in the fact that their dishes showed a lot more thought.
The fact that they went to the trouble of organising a vegetarian set was also icing on the cake given that it was probably one of the better vegetarian Chinese New Years Day meal I’ve had in years!
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